How Deep Does the Red Square Go?

I went to the Crocker Art Gallery, and saw a piece titled “Deep Red Square (Homage to Josef Albers).” It is a large square, that looks to be about 4 feet by 4 feet. The piece was made in 1980. Richard Anuszkiewicz is the artist that created this painting. It is made with acrylic on canvas. The piece consists of a red square in the middle of a blue background, utilizing complemetary colors. Red lines radiate outward from the square, to the edge of the painting. They are straight, usually diagonal lines. It reminds me of a starburst. At the corners, on the outer edges of the red square, the red lines get closer together. The lines start to bleed together, and shine a red color from the outer corners of the red square to the inner corners of the painting.

The lines feel like an optical illusion, they made my eyes feel a little strained. But, it was very beautiful. I took pictures, but it doesn’t turn out the same as looking at the piece in person. You can really see the line work in person. As you move around the painting, the lines look like they are moving. You really need to zoom into the picture to see all the lines in it. Just looking at at the full photograph pushes the fine lines so close together, that it’s hard to really see them. The large size of the piece, in person, is a vastly different experience.

I liked this piece, it really alive as you walk around it. It is placed in the middle of an otherwise blank wall, in the museum. It is bright, and vibrant. I liked it, but I don’t think I’d like to own it. Looking at it for too long strains my eyes. It is an illusion, without the elements of a traditional illusion. It is supposed to just be about the act of seeing.

Anuszkiewicz became an important figure in this art movement, called Op Art (or, Optical Art). Op Art gives the illusion of motion. It was partially a reaction to Pop Art and Abstract Expressionism.

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